“But I hate to hear you talking so, like a fine gentleman, and as if women were all fine ladies, instead of rational creatures. We none of us expect to be in smooth water all our days.” —Persuasion
Jane Austen: True romantic or rational creature? Her novels transport us back to the Regency, a time when well-mannered gentlemen and finely-bred ladies fell in love as they danced at balls and rode in carriages. Yet her heroines, such as Elizabeth Bennet, Anne Elliot, and Elinor Dashwood, were no swooning, fainthearted damsels in distress. Austen’s novels have become timeless classics because of their biting wit, honest social commentary, and because she wrote of strong women who were ahead of their day. True to their principles and beliefs, they fought through hypocrisy and broke social boundaries to find their happily-ever-after.
In the third romance anthology of The Quill Collective series, sixteen celebrated Austenesque authors write the untold histories of Austen’s brave adventuresses, her shy maidens, her talkative spinsters, and her naughty matrons. Peek around the curtain and discover what made Lady Susan so wicked, Mary Crawford so capricious, and Hettie Bates so in need of Emma Woodhouse’s pity.
Rational Creatures is a collection of humorous, poignant, and engaging short stories set in Georgian England that complement and pay homage to Austen’s great works and great ladies who were, perhaps, the first feminists in an era that was not quite ready for feminism.
“Make women rational creatures, and free citizens, and they will become good wives; —that is, if men do not neglect the duties of husbands and fathers.” —Mary Wollstonecraft
Stories by: Elizabeth Adams * Nicole Clarkston * Karen M Cox * J. Marie Croft * Amy D’Orazio * Jenetta James * Jessie Lewis * KaraLynne Mackrory * Lona Manning * Christina Morland * Beau North * Sophia Rose * Anngela Schroeder * Joana Starnes * Caitlin Williams * Edited by Christina Boyd * Foreword by Devoney Looser
Hello! I am not sure I have a lot more to say now than… finally!! Christina Boyd has done it again: editing a great piece of art with great authors and this time… the ladies are the protagonists! I am still reading Rational Creatures but I can tell you that it is AWESOME 🙂 After having Mr Darcy and his own thoughts and then some dangerous men… we can read some very rational creatures who will tell their stories for us to discover them and know them better.
I have a lot to tell you today about this collection of stories but we have a protagonist today, well, two protagonists: Anngela Schroeder and Emma Woodhouse!
We will start with the real woman, the fictional one will have her say later on; although both are intertwined in this post.
ANNGELA SCHROEDER has a degree in English with a concentration in British literature and a master’s in education. She has taught high school for twenty years and could imagine no job as fulfilling (other than maybe being Oprah). She loves to travel, bake, and watch college football with her husband of eighteen years and three rambunctious sons. Her weaknesses are yellow cake with chocolate frosting, a ripe watermelon, and her father’s Arabic food, namely grape leaves and falafel. She lives in California where she dreams of Disney adventures and trips across the pond. Follow her on Twitter, Instagram: Anngela Schroeder-Author, and Facebook:
Welcome Anngela Schroeder to My Vices and Weaknesses, thank you for answering some questions related to Rational Creatures.
1) Jane Austen wrote Emma as a heroine “whom no one but myself will much like.” Why do you think she said that?
Emma is much different that the heroines Jane Austen had written up to this point. From sensible Elinor and romantic Marianne, to strong Elizabeth and kind Jane, Emma runs in a completely different league. She is not only wealthy but will be independently wealthy upon the death of her father. She knows this; she knows she does not need a man to secure her future, nor does she actively seek one. She is that girl that everyone hates out of jealousy, but loves because although she’s the spoiled rich girl, she still means well through her naiveté. Emma is not as relatable as the other characters, yet we still find ourselves rooting for her and Mr. Knightley because of Mr. Knightley. Without his guidance to help her see her faults, she would succumb to her own arrogance. Just like us-without a good friend or a significant other to ‘ground us,’ we would succumb to our most unflattering characteristics.
2) What appealed to you about Emma for this anthology? Who else would you have liked to write about had Emma not been available?
Emma appealed to me because she was a challenge. I was not as familiar with her nuances as say Elizabeth Bennet, so I really had to research her. I had a few nights lying awake in bed worried about Emma and the road I was leading her down, and how she would retain her characteristics, but still show growth. I worked really hard and felt I captured her essence, but only the readers will know for sure.
If Emma had not been available, I would love to have written Charlotte Lucas. Charlotte created her future- she was a self-made ‘independent’ woman. I have always loved the idea of Charlotte’s motivation and her possibilities.
3) Feminism came years after Jane Austen. How do you define feminism? Do you consider Emma a feminist?
Feminism to me is equivocal to strength-strength of character and choices. Emma is a feminist, not by choice, but by circumstances. She is the mistress of Highbury, a substantial estate; she is treated as her father’s equal, and not a dependent because of her mother’s early death and her father’s reliance upon her. Emma is allowed to voice her opinions and is not made to feel any less because she has them. Her father, and his good friend Mr. Knightley, do not demean or dismiss her leading her to believe she is of worth. This if nothing else, would elevate her to the opinion that she should be taken seriously and has merit in all she does or thinks.
4) What did you like most about writing this story and being a part of this collection?
I loved watching Emma grow up, and giving her the story line and choices that forced her to do so. In Jane Austen’s original novel, she doesn’t experience true hardship; she is only vexed. Yes, the possibility of losing Mr. Knightley throws a wrench in her world, but I wanted her to truly experience uncertainty- that uncomfortable feeling that sits in the pit of your stomach and makes you reevaluate life. I wanted her to recognize, as other characters in the story do, that there was a world in which women were capable and complete; that one didn’t have to put up with other’s choices, but they themselves could create their own happiness. I loved Emma’s interactions, although limited, with Jane Fairfax. So much was said with so few words.
Being part of such a brilliant group of writers was more than I could have hoped for when I began self-publishing five years ago. In truth, I still fangirl over many of them when they publish a new book, and to see my name on the cover with them, and edited by Christina Boyd…I just want to post the cover on my parent’s refrigerator.
Thank you, Anngela, for being here today. I hope the readers may have found them very interesting as you have given a few tiny details that the good observer can easily detect and be intrigued: a wrench in her world, reevaluate the life, etc.
Anngela is sharing an excerpt of her story about Emma Knightley in Rational Creatures. I hope you like this excerpt and I wish you get the compilation asap. I am half way the collection of stories and I can only say: go girls!! As you know, I never say only one thing, so I will also say: one of the female characters that I did not particularly like, after reading her story, she has become a heroine for me!! I am not talking about Emma this time because I have always liked Emma even when she can be infuriating due to her matchmaking.
It was then that footsteps could be heard from his dressing room and she leaned over to blow out the candle on her bedside table before the door opened to reveal her husband.
Time had not been unkind to George Knightley—his features were showing little sign of aging with only flecks of silver shot through his dark mass of hair. His frame, silhouetted by the warm glow of the fire in the hearth, was still that of an avid sportsman, and Emma’s heart raced as he lifted the counterpane, slipping in next to her.
“Good evening, my dear Emma.” His fingertips traced her arms and he softly kissed her shoulder.
“Good evening, Mr. Knightley”—and she leaned to his touch.
“I am sorry I have been monopolized with Donwell business these last two days.”
“I thought you were avoiding me,” she said with a pout in her voice.
“Avoiding you, my Emma? Whatever for?” He kissed the back of her neck, sending shivers up her spine. “I have actually been thinking much of you lately.”
“I have. Have you not been thinking of me?” He kissed her again, causing her breath to catch.
“Yes, I have. I have been thinking of this moment for quite some time.”
“As have I,” he said with a smile which even in the dim light, she could not miss. “And what have you been thinking?”
She turned to face him. Tracing his jaw with her fingers, she slowly arched to kiss him, before pulling away. “I have been thinking about the Winthrops.”
“The Winthrops?” He sputtered. “What Winthrops?”
“I was hoping you could tell me.”
He sat up and leaned on his elbow, the counterpane falling across his waist. “I had not hoped to have this type of intercourse tonight.”
She ran her hand down his back and smiled at the tease in his voice. “I was just curious about the Winthrops.”
His laughter indicated his confusion. “The Winthrops? The family that used to live at Randalls years before the Westons?”
“Must we speak of them now? I have discussed business all day and would much rather enjoy my wife.” When she did not respond to his entreaties, he asked, “Why are you thinking about them? They were gone long before you would have any recollection of their family.”
She shrugged her shoulders and lamented her impulsiveness. “It is only that Miss Bates received a letter from Jane, and she was content reading the letter until she came to the name ‘Winthrop’. Then she was so flustered that she excused herself and babbled not another word until I called for our carriage to return her home. Does that not seem an oddity for Miss Bates?”
“Hmm?”—fidgeting with the covers—“I cannot imagine why you have that tone with me. You cannot have any reason to be exasperated when the uncertainty of my crimes loom before me. I am merely having a conversation with my husband.”
“A conversation at this precise moment, my dear wife, is your first crime.” He reached over and twirled the ends of her blonde curls in his fingers. “Your second is that you interrupted my pursuit solely to appease your curious mind about a missive from Jane to her aunt. That is a crime punishable with transport to Australia.” He slid his hand slowly down her arm before raising her hand and kissing the inside of her wrist. “The third: you are obviously on a meddling mission. Maybe some scheme involving Miss Bates. I will warn you now, under no circumstance, are you to allow that clever mind of yours to take up matchmaking again!”
“Matchmaking? I never said anything about a manor matchmaking!” She squealed, sitting up and clapping her hands. “I knew it! You must tell me, George. I have been riddled with curiosity.”
She could see the resignation in his face as he leaned back against the headboard. “Emma….”
“George, darling. I am a married woman of thirty-one. I have four children. Matchmaking was in my youth. I am only concerned for an old friend.”
She could feel him studying her and hoped her carefully regulated voice showed no cause for suspicion.
“Very well. I will tell you, Emma. But nomatchmaking.” She nodded soberly until he seemed to believe her, then began. “The Winthrops were a highly esteemed family who owned Randalls before it passed to the previous owner before the Westons.”
“Yes, that is what John said yesterday.”
“John? You have discussed this with my brother, then? You arequite invested—”
“Solely for a friend.”
He snorted. “Their brood was a few years older than John and me, save the youngest girl. But our mothers had been at school together, and so we were either at Randalls or they were at Donwell often. I am surprised John did not tell you this.”
“Oh, you know your brother. I suppose he could not stir himself to remember.” After a moment, she asked, “How would that have affected Miss Bates?”
“Their youngest son was the same age as Miss Bates—”
“Miss Bates is only few years older than you?”
“You knew that, Emma.”
“I most certainly did not!”
“Hetty was always amiable. She would make us little boats to sail on the pond when her father, the vicar, would call. She would play hide-and-seek and other childish games with us. Yet when Edmund Winthrop was visiting, we boys did not exist.”
“Did she set her cap at him?”
“We were never certain.”
Emma paused, absorbing the new information and then— “Forgive me. It is only that you seem so much younger than Miss Bates.”
Pulling her close, he laughed into her hair and said, “Because I chose wisely in a bride who would forever keep me young.” He tucked a curl behind her ear. “Now, the Winthrops. I must say, I remember a time when John and I were quite disgusted with Edmund and would have challenged him if we could have formulated the idea. We viewed Hetty Bates as quite our own and were quite put out when the Winthrops visited at the same time.”
“Youwere smitten with Miss Bates?” she asked in disbelief. “George, I must say, all I thought I knew of the world is now amiss.”
A deep chuckle rolled from his lips. “Now you are being nonsensical. I am relating the musings of a young boy of ten who favored Miss Bates solely for her skills at making paper boats and pilfering lemon biscuits from her cook.”
“As long as anyfeelings you had for her were of a childish nature…” She kissed him now, reminding him that paper boats were for children and how there were many more advantages to choosing her.
“Emma, darling, you are the most infuriating woman!” He pulled her close and kissed her breathless. “Hetty Bates was a skilled paper boat builder. You, Mrs. Knightley, have other arts and allurements.”
“My Emma”… swoon!
What do you think about the Knightleys? I simply adore this story and I will just say a few things: Emma gets better with age, she is more clever than some people may expect and she loves her husband dearly and she will fight for their marriage. (Well… who does not love Mr Knightley? 😉 )
Why not buying today Rational Creatures? You could do it on the following links (check you Amazon site if it is not included below):
Blog Tour Schedule
Such an amazing compilation of stories is being discovered during the whole blog tour. I recommend you to check the ones already written and wait for the following ones.
September 18th / My Jane Austen Book Club / Guest Post
September 22nd / Just Jane 1813/ Guest Post
September 25th / Books & Wine are Lovely Playlist
September 27th / Fangs, Wands and Fairydust / Guest Post
October 2nd / Babblings of a Bookworm / Guest Post
October 4th / From Pemberley to Milton / Guest Post
October 9th / Austenesque Reviews / Guest Post
October 11th / Silver Petticoat / Guest Post
October 15th / Just Jane 1813 / Book Review
October 16th / My Love for Jane Austen / Guest Post
October 18th / Rosie’s Review Team / Book Review
October 23rd / More Agreeably Engaged / Guest Post
October 25th / The Book Rat / Guest Post
October 30th / Margie’s Must Reads / Book Review
November 1st / My Vices and Weaknesses / Guest Post
November 6th / Diary of an Eccentric / Book Review
November 8th / Of Pens and Pages / Book Review
November 13th / Let Us Talk of Many Things / Guest Post
Time to Give Away
What a better ending of this post than having a great giveaway!!
Rational Creatures SUPER Giveaway: The Random Name Picker winner review all blog comments and select one winner from these blog stop comments during the tour for all 21 prizes: Winner’s choice of one title from each authors’ backlist (that’s 16 books, ebooks, or audiobooks), our bespoke t-shirt/soap/candle; #20, a brick in winner’s name to benefit #BuyABrick for Chawton House; and #21, the Quill Collective anthologies in ebook or audiobook.
Make sure you leave a comment to be entered to get a chance to win one of these prizes!
The giveaway ends November 15th, 2018 and is open to international winners.